Bangladesh fire: blaze engulfs high-rise tower in Dhaka


Occupants seen trying to escape blaze by climbing down 19-storey building

A huge blaze broke out in a 19-storey commercial building in Dhaka on Thursday, the second major fire in Bangladesh’s capital in as many months.

Helicopters dropped water on the burning building from above while hundreds of panicked onlookers crowded the streets in the upmarket commercial district of Banani.

“Nineteen fire-fighting units are working at the scene. Bangladesh navy and air force have also joined to fight the fire,” the duty officer at Dhaka’s central fire service control room, Mohammad Russel, said.

There was no official word on how many people were trapped inside the building. More than a dozen people were injured and sent to hospital, fire official Enayet Hossain told Reuters.

Images on social media showed intense flames and thick black smoke pouring out of the office block in Banani, an upmarket commercial district. People were seen shouting for help from windows, while at least six people jumped out of the burning tower, the Daily Star newspaper reported.

Shoikot Rahman ran to safety after hearing colleagues raise the alarm, narrowly escaping the smoke and flames engulfing the building.

“When I heard a fire broke out in the building, I quickly rushed out of the building,” he told AFP.

“Many of my colleagues are still trapped in the office.”

A massive blaze in Dhaka’s old quarter last month killed at least 70 people and injured 50 others.

Fire service officials said a warehouse of deodorant and granular plastic in one of the five buildings that caught fire fuelled that inferno, which took more than 12 hours to control.

The disaster recalled a June 2010 fire in the nearby neighbourhood of Nimtoli in which 123 people were killed.

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